Rail plan ‘will not hit bid for capital rail link’

Super Voyager, which would run on a Blackpool to London line
Super Voyager, which would run on a Blackpool to London line
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Plans to reduce severe rail disruption on the West Coast Main Line will not hit Virgin’s hopes of running a service from Blackpool to London by 2016, the train firm said today.

The Office of Rail Regulation has consulted with members of the public, consumer groups, industry, and Network Rail in finalising the Government’s £21bn plan for Britain’s railways between 2014 and 2019.

This includes ensuring that by 2019, fewer than three in 100 trains on the West Coast Main Line should be delayed by more than 30 minutes or cancelled.

However, Virgin Trains, which was told by the ORR in August a link from the resort to the capital would not be possible because of congestion on the West Coast Main Line, said it was still committed to running a service by 2016 if the line was less congested.

It comes after The Gazette ran its On Track to the Capital campaign which saw more than 5,000 people sign a petition in the hope of securing a Blackpool to London service.

A spokesman for the operator said: “The customer has always been at the heart of our business and we remain as committed as ever to improving the service we offer to them, not least our desire to introduce direct trains between Blackpool and London.”

David Higgins, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “The next five years for the railway will prove to be a critical challenge.

“A challenge to continue to respond to rising passenger demand and our need to grow and expand the network while at the same time juggling the ever harder challenges of improving performance, reducing cost and delivering huge investment projects from which substantial social and economic benefits flow.”

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